Thursday, January 19, 2017

Break the Cycle



I have spent last few weeks visiting places, talking to strangers, playing with kids and meeting relatives I never knew I had. With my brother and his family in India, it was a family re-union of sorts. Missed birthdays, milestone anniversaries, ignored achievements - we celebrated them all. And you know what? Away from newspaper, TV, Facebook and Twitter, life was actually good. Vibrant, warm and mostly peaceful. 

While packing bags for our first day trip, I noticed that the kids in the group were focussed on stuffing their chargers, gadgets and wires. The rules had to be set. Contemplating trouble, I lectured, “Since family time is precious, let’s use our phones sparingly. No chatting, no Facebook and no watching movies. Minimum use of phone. Is that clear, everybody?” 

With a sly smile on his lips, the son asked, “The rules apply to all. Right mom?” 

“Yes, everybody,” I snorted. 

If I could read minds, the three teen faces were perhaps saying, ‘Oh puhleeze…these adults, I tell you, they set up rules specifically to torture us. And then they go on and on about how we will understand when we are their age….’ Thankfully there were no counter questions, just silent murmurs of protest.

As for me, what can I say? Setting a good example for children takes a toll on middle ages. Forget middle age, even Dadi Ma was anxious about missing her ladies chat.

Anyway, once we were not obliged to post comments, know who checked in where, and react to who said what, there were places to discover, people to chat with, restaurants to explore and a disregard for WiFi. It was a relaxed vacation against which a happening virtual life registered as a distraction. 

The husband, many a times, has tried to feed me with his well meaning nuggets. Read more, write less. Observe more, react less. Limit your time on Twitter. But the idea of a life away from virtual world seemed too old fashioned to be relevant. What does he know? He hasn’t checked his Facebook in a month. And Twitter is as alien to him as getting his eyebrows done.

This is not to say that temptation didn’t knock. Almost all of us cheated in between morning dumps and car sojourns. However, towards the end of the second week the virtual world had lost some of its charm. The teens were not fixated on looking at screens and the adults were not obsessed about what the world was doing.

Needless to say, I spent the happiest two weeks of 2016. But, once family members flew back to respective destinations virtual world beckoned in all its glory. The demons began raising their heads. ‘You haven’t written a blog post in 2017, what are you doing dammit? Writing defines you. What are you if not a writer? Do you even know what’s happening on Twitter? You missed reading other blog posts and now no one will read you’.

After the first week of 2017, I was back in the arms of WiFi, albeit in my new enlightened state. Limit and optimize. There was little point stressing about every opinion in the Twitterverse. Most voices, after all, shout in their ideological wells. Why engage with those who refuse to listen to diverse views. Moreover, most outrage on Twitter was over trivial stuff. Name of a celebrity baby. Dress of a cricketer’s wife. Any tweet by Barkha or Rajdeep was equally effective. Whichever side I flipped, the mirror had cracks. People were getting personal and petty over trivial issues. Those who were miffed with Aamir earlier were writing rave reviews of Dangal. Those who twisted knickers over Fawad Khan in ADHM were oblivious to the presence of Ali Zafar in Dear Zindagi. And those who batted for Fawad Khan were muted over threats to a kid from the valley. 
Almost all of us were sinning, albeit differently.

And while writing is what defines me, no one was waiting for my posts to make their life fulfilling. They were simply being nice when they said they enjoyed reading what I write.
Besides, look at the irony.  While we itch to share our pictures with 500 odd friends, we don’t even want to meet a majority of those who like them. But, but, but. All said, my Facebook friends whom I met via blogging have enhanced my life and in helped me grow as a person. I cherish them more than any ideology, political parrty or politician. 

The truth is that social media came into existence to relax, connect and express. Not to distract, addict and exhaust. Snatch a moment, go out for a lunch and say hello to the close ones in real time. As they say, there is a difference between practicing what you preach and preaching only after you have practiced. You can’t blame me for not practicing. Let's see how long I remain in my enlightened state.



Image Courtesy: Here




33 comments:

  1. "The truth is that social media came into existence to relax, connect and express. Not to distract, addict and exhaust."

    These lines are pure gold.

    We think social media is now an inherent part of our lives, but once we are away from it, we realize how little it means. But I'm not sure that euphoria will last if the break were to last a few months.

    The anger and frustration fuels our desire to write.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True Purba, the euphoria won't last if the break was to extend. Optimize and limit is the answer.

      Delete
  2. A lot of the time what keeps us glued to our screens is absolutely worthless stuff.... " If u are above 30 u must read this "; " what do stars do on a day off? " etc etc... Good decision to enjoy your family time

    ReplyDelete
  3. So damn true. Every bit of what you've written. I usually stay completely (well, almost) away from social media on weekends and it's a much needed break from all the chaotic chatter online. I cherish the family time and offline friends' without suffering from the itch to update statues or post selfies on my timeline. Thanks for this post, Alka. My first time here, I guess. Will keep hopping in :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wait! You had better not expose P to Twitter. I like his eyebrows just as they are!
    Has your zen state cracked yet? Meet me on Whatsapp with the details. K bye.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hehe, the Zen is cracking a bit but learnt a few lessons.

      Delete
  5. The family reunions as described by you are becoming rarer and rarer.Good that you could manage it.
    And what is social media in comparison to our dear ones?Since family members are today scattered all over the globe perhaps that is why we fill the vacuum through social media.I do not frequent it that much,but my blogger friends hold a special place in my affections.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some blogger friends are special indeed.

      Delete
  6. Nice to see you back after digital detox Alka! The family reunions are lovely but you were missed in virtual world too:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's so sweet of you Rahul. Perhaps it was long overdue for me.

      Delete
  7. Well-said Alka! Totally relate to all you've said, since I myself am getting back to my 'real' life of 'virtual' relations after a wonderful break! Like you said, I am totally confident the virtual world didn't collapse without my presence or even miss it! Sad no? I am sure you've had a blast connecting with family and spending quality time over sweet nothings and more! Yes, definitely one feels more enlightened after a digital detox....only how long it will last, is the question!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Limit and optimize is the key perhaps. I was getting addicted.

      Delete
  8. Very well written Alka. Going offline now and then is so required for all of us. Actually, now I am mostly offline these days on Facebook and well, twitter..I was never there. Its a huge reality check to know that nobody is waiting for our updates or blog posts. Life goes on. We enjoy even if we dont post up to date photos of where we are. As an aside, have I ever commented about the Black Mirror on your posts before ? If not, do ping as I think you might like it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No you haven't Asha, what's it?
      As for me, I was getting addicted. Needed a tap on the head. Yes, life goes on.

      Delete
  9. Well said, Alka. I traveled to Andamans and there was no connectivity there. Though I was able to make calls to my family, there was no WhatApps, FB, Twitter etc. I was upset when I reached but when I left, I loved my vacation. We lived every moment of our vacation and this was an eye opener. The happiness of personal connections cannot be matched with that of virtual. Yes, the virtual one is our reality but it's not we really want in life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You said it Parul. Initially we think we can't survive, but we do.

      Delete
  10. The breaks are absolutely crucial not only to let you do what you enjoy but also to stop doing the mundane. That said social media is a part of our lives. Where l see most people do wrong is to take small breaks and then go back to their addiction with a greater force. I think if you are spending all your time on social media then it is time to take a hard look at your life. Glad you had such a good time at the reunion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it's a wonderful part. But it was a welcome break for me. I was getting addicted.

      Delete
  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Rightly summarized the thoughts of all of us virtual world junkies, somewhere inside our heart we think to stay away from this but all this has turned into a “necessary evil”, love it, hate it, can’t live without it. Me too tried it in my last summer break, but we are so used to it that we start feeling uncomfortable with its prolonged absence. I think key is to draw a line between the two and more importantly stick to that line. On a lighter note, I am still imagining Jijaji getting his eye brows done :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Highly informative article. These are really great tips to follow. Thanks for discussing in details. chennai to shirdi tour package, chennai to shirdi flight package

    http://www.srisairamsubhayatra.in/

    ReplyDelete
  14. I can stay away from social media without any trouble. My rule is when family is around, I don't even log into my accounts. Biggest help is I don't carry a phone. I have only Instagram on my iPad, rest I surf when I log in from laptop. Easy-peasy for me. As you said, I use social media to relax. I am blessed that way! :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. The title of your post scared the hell out of me for a moment. My mind rebelled at the prospect of going through another piece of blather about the 'cycle' and the epic fraud unleashed upon the land by the clan of certain Soft Lion Milkman. Luckily, it turned out to be something that made me stop and ponder.

    Your post offers a bright ray of hope in that a redemption from the obsession is not impossible, though none of us is truly seeking it. The message at the end of appears innocuous enough but portends a sinister world into which we are sinking with each passing day. Why, the cell has become a cell of our souls!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, USP. I can't imagine breaking that cycle now that UP ke Ladke are doubling.
      What you say about cells being a cell of our souls is true.
      Always a pleasure to see your presence.

      Delete
  16. People should take a break from phones when they go on vacations. There should be time allotted for family to look forward to. Not even TV should be allowed during dinner. There are families who practice these. Like you said technology was supposed to make life easy, not to get us addicted.

    ReplyDelete